Trophy Field Care
If you've just shot a bird you would like to have mounted follow these simple steps...
In The Field
Retrieve the bird by hand if at all possible. Don't send the dog. Pick it up carefully by the feet or bill so you don't accidentally pull out feathers. Don't put the bird in a plastic bag. The bird needs to air cool. Don't gut the bird. Don't breast the bird out either. When packing the bird out after the hunt, carry it separately from any other birds. If you have to pack them out together on a game strap you should loop the feet in the strap instead of the neck. The main thing you want to avoid is feather loss or breakage. Don't worry about blood or wet feathers.
After The Hunt
Look for pinfeathers. They are no good when choosing a specimen for taxidermy. These will fall out during the mounting process. Pinfeathers are the feathers growing in with soft shafts. Carefully look through the feathers by pulling them apart and looking at the shafts. Don't pull hard enough to pluck them. Pay close attention to the scapular feather groups (the long shoulder feathers) and the side feather groups on waterfowl. These are usually the last to grow in. Make sure no major groups of feathers are missing. Pay special attention to head feathers. Broken legs, wings, and shot holes through feet are not always problems. Shot holes through bills are not a problem.
Storing The Bird
Freezer burn is always a major problem to a bird. It will ruin your possibility for a quality mount. Here's how to avoid it...
Tuck the bird's head under one wing and roll it up in a plastic bag. Force all the air out while rolling it up tight. Don't worry about bending or smashing feathers. These will come back around just fine. Double or triple bag the specimen forcing all the air out and taping it shut with masking tape. Label and date your bird. Put the package directly in the freezer. Don't keep it in a frost-free type freezer for any extended period of time. These dry birds out and will cause them to freezer burn. These steps will keep the bird in good condition and greatly increase your chances of getting back a top quality mount from your taxidermist.